THERE WAS A voice in the darkness. I thought at first I was hearing the bad guys, and then I understood the voice, and knew that it was much worse than bad guys. Necromancer, the voice whispered.

Fear stabbed through me in the dark, fear like fine champagne. I had a moment of being able to feel my body. A flash of knowing I was lying on a floor, and then I was back in the dark.



Fear, and I was thrown into my body again. A moment of lights, and sensation, then darkness.


I think I opened my eyes, but it could have been a dream. The darkness kept eating the world.

Necromancer, if you stay in the dark, you will die.

The room was white, and I knew my hands were tied behind my back. Then the drugs sucked me into the dark again.

Necromancer! She reached for me. It was a womans hand, small, delicate, and it was the paw of some great beast with claws, and fur, andThe claws struck; pain ripped through the darkness and made it run with blood. I woke, gasping for air, pulse, heart, everything racing.

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My chest hurt. I looked down and found the front of my T-shirt cut. Blood drops spattered the white tiles I was lying on. I worked to get a better look at the front of me, and finally realized the front of my shirt had been shredded by huge claws.

I remembered her reaching for me in the dark, and I knew she had done this. Somehow Marmee Noir had done this. Mother of God. The last of the drugs washed away on a flood of pure terror.

I fought not to panic. The fear had helped me wake up, helped get the drugs out of my head and body; now I had to make sure the fear itself didnt cripple me.

Other than the claw marks, was I hurt? I had a headache, but that could have been the flash-bang as well as the drugs. What kind of vampires used modern grenades and drugs on their victims? The adrenaline was doing its job. I seemed to be thinking faster, everything crystal edged. Had Marmee Noir scared me on purpose to wake me up and get me going? I pushed the thought away for later. Stay alive, and worry about the rest later.

I was lying on cool, white tile. Not horrible. But my hands were tied behind my back, which was horrible. Nothing good ever happens when the bad guys tie you up. I might have panicked about it, but one, it does no good to panic, and two, Marmee Noir wasnt in this white room. It was good. Where was I?

The tiles I was on were a nondescript color somewhere between off-white and beige. I tried to see things without moving much. I had no way of knowing if they had a way to see me. I did not want them to realize I was awake, not yet. The more time I had to think before they came back, the better. People do not tie you up and leave you on cold floors if they plan on doing nice things to you. No, bad things were coming. Which made me wonder, where was Jason?

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The urge to roll over and see if he was in another part of this room was so strong that I tensed up, and now my pulse was higher. Shit. My hands clenched before I could stop them. So much for pretending to be asleep.

Then, distant, like there were doors and rooms between us, I heard a mans voice, yelling, Wheres Lorna? I didnt know the voice. Then came a voice I did know. Jason was yelling, screaming actually, I dont know! Then he was just screaming.

That did it. Fuck caution. I sat up and discovered that my body still ached some from the abuse Id given it in the hotel room. But it didnt hurt that much; I was healing, and if I didnt get us out of here, things would hurt a hell of a lot more.

I was in a small bathroom with a stool and tub/shower combo behind me. There was a sink with cabinet and mirror to one side. I looked up near the ceiling for cameras. If they had cameras on me, I was sunk. I was no expert on surveillance, but I couldnt see anything that looked like a camera. Most people didnt put shit like that in bathrooms. If you were a good guy, it was illegal and an invasion of privacy. You could go to jail for it in a lot of states. Of course, these guys were already looking at kidnapping and assault. I wasnt sure theyd sweat a little sexual perversion charge.

Jason screamed again. I crawled on my knees to the cabinet. It had to be a private residence; they wouldnt have let Jason scream like that in a hotel. Which meant that underneath the sink should be some very dangerous and potentially useful things. Please, dont let them be the kind of people who put everything under the kitchen sink. Or worse yet, dont let them have thought to remove all the fun stuff.

I prayed as I turned around and opened the doors with my bound hands. When I had the one door opened, I turned around to see what I had to work with.

There were two bottles that were caustic and had warnings about not getting them in your eyes, and poison if swallowed. The poison part wasnt helpful with vampires, but the eye damage was. It wouldnt damage them the way it would damage a human, but it would hurt, and maybe give me a few seconds to do something more permanent to them. Id had success with throwing shit in a vampires eyes before. If I could get my hands undone, that was. If I couldnt manage that, then it didnt matter how many goodies were under the sink; I was screwed.

Jason screamed again, just one long ragged sound. It pushed my pulse into my throat and made my body jerk. The jerk made me think about what held my wrists. It was a flex-cuff. Thats basically a great big twist tie, sort of. There was a drawer to the side of the sink.

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I stood and turned my back to the drawer so I could open it. Please, let there be a nail file or something in here. Please.

When I turned and looked, it was even better. There was a pair of small manicuring scissors. Someone up there liked me. Its harder than it sounds to use tiny scissors behind your own back to cut through a pair of flex-cuffs. Its doable, and it beats the hell out of trying to saw through them with a metal file, but its still a lesson in frustration. Of course, the frustration could have been because Jason kept screaming. Hed scream, Id jump, and Id have to readjust the scissors. I finally had to close my eyes, so that I could concentrate on just the scissors on the plastic, and I forced myself to stop jumping every time Jason made a bad noise. What the hell were they doing to him? I forced myself to not follow that line of thought. My imagination was way too vivid to be helpful. Id get my hands free, and then wed save Jason. Simple, easy, sure.

The scissors bit through the last piece of the cuffs, and my hands were free. Id been concentrating so hard on it that for a second I didnt move. I let out the breath Id been holding and opened my eyes. Then I very carefully let my hands come forward. Sometimes when youre cutting through things behind your back, when you free yourself, you lose concentration for a moment and cut yourself after youre free. Yeah, they were just little scissors, but Id done it before with knives.

I stood there for a second, free at last, and then Jason screamed again. I knelt by the chemicals under the sink. I had rubbing alcohol, toilet bowl cleaner, tile scrubber, and a refill for the liquid soap dispenser beside the faucet. I heard footsteps in what I assumed was a hallway. Someone was coming this way. Jason screamed again from a distance, so it wasnt him, which meant no one coming through the door was my friend.

Id have liked to have time to plan, but time was over for planning. It was time to act. I grabbed the alcohol, uncapped it. Hands touched the door and used a key to unlock it. I raised the bottle back. If I missed the eyes, Id just irritate him. The door opened. I saw a face, and I tossed the alcohol into it.

He yelled, What the hell! and then he just yelled. I hadnt missed. His hands were clutching his face. I stepped back enough to get room, and being small helped me get enough force to put my foot into the side of his knee and destroy the joint. Everyone has joints, even vampires.

He screamed. I heard a second male voice down the hall say, Troy, what the hell are you doing down there?

Troy was on the floor. I could see his gun at his waist and his extra magazine. I took both. I heard someone coming down the hallway. I had a second to choose who to shoot first. Troy was hurt, the other guy wasnt.

I rolled my shoulder around the doorjamb with the gun in my hand and ready. I used the edge of the door to help steady me one-handed, because the magazine was in my other hand. The vampire was spattered with blood. It wasnt his. He looked surprised to see me.

He actually let me shoot him in the chest three times, while he stared at me. It was like shooting humans. His knees hit the ground and I put another round in his head. Either I was getting better or hed never been that good. Being a vampire can only make you so much better; if you suck to begin with, youll still suck once youre undead.

I heard Troy moving behind me, and I threw myself into the hallway, shooting into him as I put the far wall against my back. I put two in the center of him as he crouched in the doorway. Blood started out of his mouth, and I walked closer so the two I put just above his eyes would blow the back of his brains out his skull. At that range, it did exactly that. Once you see that much brain on the outside spattered around, a newly dead vampire is truly dead. Just seeing brains through the skull doesnt count. If the brain is still attached and whole you can still get vampires that rise up and try to kill you again. Also, be careful about destroying the higher brain and leaving the lower. You can end up with revenants then, and they are a bitch. Eating machines, like zombies, but not.

I had to change magazines to shoot a bullet into the base of his skull. Like I said, the brain needs to be well and truly scrambled or the damn things can still get up. I didnt want anything alive left behind me. Normally, Id have made sure the heart was destroyed, too, but I wanted to save ammo in case I needed it for other bad guys. It was a gamble, but they were the newly dead, so I was pretty secure with the choice.

I went to the guy in the hallway, and found a nice-sized hole in his chest. Id hit the heart, so that was good. I put the muzzle to the base of his skull and fired off one more round. That took care of the lower brain and the spine. If I found a big enough blade, or more ammo, Id come back and make absolutely sure they wouldnt walk again, but for now, I wanted to get to Jason.

I found a second gun on this ones belt. There was even a spare magazine. They used the same kind of gun. Great, I had more ammo.

I wanted to run to where I thought Jason was, but I forced myself to check the place first. There was a door at the end of the hallway that looked like it led out. There were two more doors on either side of the hallway just short of that door. Maybe I should have checked all the rooms first, made sure we were alone, but I didnt know how badly hurt Jason was. If he bled to death while I was playing supercop, it wouldnt matter that Id been thorough.

I knew whose blood the vampire in the hallway had been covered in. Did I feel bad about killing them? No. I walked down the hallway, keeping near one wall, gun ready in case there were more of them. I was searching for vampires with that part of me that likes the dead. Years ago Id watched my mentor Manny Rodriguez be able to sense vampires in a house. He was always right. It had seemed like magic back then; now I sent my necromancy out through the house and couldnt sense any more of them. Unless they were really, really good, better than me, Id killed the only two vamps in the house. The real danger now was human servants; I couldnt sense humans the way I could vamps.

The end of the hallway just had an opening into a larger room. What I could see looked like everyones living room: couch, television, floor lamp. I came out of the opening with my back pressed against the wall. I knew the corner nearest me was clear, and I put that at my back while I used the gun to sweep the room.

There was something in the middle of the room, in front of the couch, not quite to the love seat against the other wall. Something that lay in a pool of blood that had changed the gray carpet to black. My mind would not see everything about what lay on the floor. My mind refused to see it, I think. I let my mind play its tricks, because I knew what I was trying not to see. It was Jason. It had to be Jason.

One of the hardest things Id done in years was sweeping that room, and not rushing to Jasons side once I saw him. I forced myself to see every corner, including the corners at the ceiling. Id seen vampires fly; hovering near the ceiling was nothing. I forced myself not to look at Jason until I was sure the room was clear. Only then did I let myself go forward. Only then did I let myself make the noise that had been caught in my throat. I didnt scream, honest. It was worse than a scream. It was that sound you make when the worst has happened and no word ever invented will say your pain. The Irish called it keening.

I knew it was Jason on the floor because of his size and the little bit of his hair that wasnt blood-soaked, but those were the only clues the vampires had left. The carpet squished under my knees as I dropped beside him. The room smelled like raw hamburger, and the carpet was a sea of blackness.

I think I went a little crazy for a few minutes. I dropped the extra magazine and the gun into the blood-soaked carpet so I could undo his hands. I fixated on undoing the bonds. If I could just get him free, it would be better. If I could just get him free. Theyd used flex-cuffs and hinge cuffs through a metal loop that theyd drilled into the floor. I needed a knife and a key. I looked up and found knives lined up on the end table by the couch. Lined up on a towel, like some kind of macabre surgery. There was a wallet, a ring of keys, and a cell phone near the lamp, as if the vampire had emptied his pockets before starting the torture. It was so terribly organized. Hed done this before. I got a knife that was less bloody, and the keys. The flex-cuffs cut easily, but I couldnt find the right key. I had to force myself to slow down, to stop fumbling.

I got his hands free, finally. I crawled down to his feet, because they were bound the same way. It was only after I got him free that I even thought I was doing this in the wrong order. But I had to undo the chains, I had to. Jason hadnt moved, at all. He was free of the restraints, but he

I reached for his neck. I prayed, Please, God, let me find a pulse. Please, oh, please.

His skin was cool to the touch. Not good. I couldnt find a pulse. My pulse seemed to speed up like it would beat for both of us. I put my hand on his chest, and there, I could feel his heart. I didnt know if I couldnt find his neck pulse because I was bad at it, or if hed lost that pulse. If the latter, then that was bad. I couldnt seem to think.

Think, Anita, think, damn it! I had to get the bleeding stopped, but there were so many wounds. How do you put pressure on someones entire body? God.

I was remembering Cisco dying. Hed been a wererat and hed bled to death with a team of doctors around him. But theyd tried to make him shift form. If you could get a lycanthrope to shift form, it healed them a little.

I put my hand back on his chest. His heart was faltering. No, no. I said, Jason, Jason, fight, Im here. Help me.

I wanted him to open his eyes, anything, buTHE just lay there, and his heart wasnt right. The rhythm was too slow. Shit.

I did the only thing I could think of, with his heart dying under my hand. I called my wolf. There was no running up the long corridor inside me, or trees; there was just an image in my head behind my eyes of the white and dark of her fur. I let that image fill me; in that moment if truly becoming a wolf would have saved him, Id have done it. In that moment, I accepted what I was, and what was in me; there was no fighting now, only a desperate need. I shoved my wolf into him as Id done with tiger and Crispin, as Id done with so many others. I shoved my beast down my hand and into that slowing heart. I willed him to change, and knew that if it didnt work, nothing was going to. If he was too hurt to shift, then he was

For the first time, there was no pain to giving my beast, because I wasnt fighting it. There was warmth and power, and a feeling of something pulled out of me, like an extra body part that I hadnt known I had, and suddenly it was there and I could feel it and use it, and it was gone again. It pushed into Jason, and I could feel it, going deep inside him. I could feel that part of me seeking a matching part of him. I found his beast, and what had been gentle and loving was suddenly explosive. I needed him to change now. The beasts seemed to sense my urgency, or maybe his wolf didnt want to die either.

Jasons body jerked under my hand. He gave a sound, a cry, and fur flowed under my hand. His body shrank and re-formed. Once, feeling Richard shift and change against my body had frightened me to death; now it was the most wonderful thing in the world. It had worked. I kept my hand on him while the power of it danced across my skin like the kiss of something electric and alive.

When it was done, a gray wolf lay on its side, panting. The heart under my hand now was thick and steady. He opened wolf eyes the color of new spring leaves. For a momenTHE saw me, and he gave me that look that no real wolf will ever give, and then the eyes fluttered shut, and the body under my hand began to flow and move again. His human body flowed up and around the wolf, and I was left with my hand on Jasons side.

I put a hand on the middle of his chest, and his heartbeat was there, thick and steady. His skin was still cool to the touch, but his heart felt better. I wiped my hand on my jeans, trying to get the blood and wet goo off of it. I put my hand back on his neck. I searched for his pulse, and found it this time.

His naked body was free of blood, so that it looked like hed just been laid down in the middle of the carnage. Now the wounds that hadnt healed were clear on his skin. He was covered in knife cuts like evil red mouths; from shoulders nearly to ankles he was covered in wounds. They began to bleed again as I watched. Id bought us some time, but this wasnt going to heal by magic; we needed doctors.

I picked up the gun from the floor and reached for the cell phone.

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